Chapter 7 - The Plan

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That evening, Mack made dinner. Rather, she made one version of it and then Majira and Daniya took care of replicating it perfectly so that everyone could eat at a reasonable hour. It was tacos.

Rick helped, passing around plates and making sure everyone got enough to eat. He engaged several of the team members in conversation, including Yi'imspi, who evaded his questions and waved him off, telling him she really just wanted to eat her supper in peace.

Mack shrugged. Maybe Rick was hitting on the Calafan, who was certainly a lovely enough woman. It wouldn't have been the first time that had happened, and it most likely would not be the last. After they had been eating for a while, she announced, "We're going to stay in this area a little while longer. The idea is to get Rick here's ship fixed as perfectly as possible. Plus, I've asked the Enterprise-E to rendezvous with us and I'd really like to see family. I take it no one objects."

"Of course not," Daniya said. "After all, you're the one who pays us."

"I like to think you can talk to me. You can, seriously, any of you can. If anyone is having any sort of, I don't know, issues, then bend my ear, okay? Feeling low? Want time off? Think I could do something better? Then tell me. And if you're curious about the ship, then ask me. I reserve the right to not tell you absolutely everything, but you can ask. Don't just touch or take, understand?" she shot a glance at Rick, who was noncommittal.

Supper wound down after that, with Yi'imspi and some others getting up quickly in order to dispose of uneaten food and used plates and flatware. Mack stared for a second and then realized the Calafan wasn't normally a part of the cleanup crew, informal as they were. So why was she helping all of a sudden?

Mack didn't have the time to really think about that as Rick jogged her elbow. "Can I talk to you in private?"

"Sure thing." She bused her dishes and they got up and left together.

They went to the top level of the Cookie and entered the Bridge's Ready Room. Mack shut the door. "Well?"

"You're not too terribly subtle, you know."

"Really? I like to think that I am," she said. "After all, the statement was a sincere one. If someone needs to talk to me about anything, then I want them to feel that they can."

"You know what I mean."

"Yeah, well I figured it made sense in context. Oh, I don't know," she said, sitting down abruptly. "I've never been cut out for cloak and dagger nonsense."

"That's okay. I'm still inept at it sometimes, myself." Rick stood and thought for a moment. "You know, because we – I – need to catch this person in the act, keeping them away from the goods isn't doing us any favors."

"You're right. So, we'll need to lay out some bait."

"The ionization diffuser," he suggested. "That will be irresistible."

Mack stared at Rick for a second. "You're creeping me out. How do you know about that?"

"I'm from the future, remember?"

"So, you know everything?"

"Not enough."


Yi'imspi made contact again. But this time, it was far more conventionally. "Admiral Harriet Caul," she said as she engaged communications. "Highest priority."

There wasn't even a relayer. She was connected by her voice command alone. Caul was in her office. "What's going on?" she asked, by way of greeting.

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